I may be bi-polar, but I'm medicated

A little window into the bi-polar world

Archive for the category “manic”

Mickey Mouse

There are times when thoughts skitter through your brain like mice behind a wall.  You hear them, you sense their approximate location, but you can’t see them or identify them as individuals.  This experience usually precipitates a period of hallucinations, although sometimes it happens afterward.

 

When your thoughts skitter, it is impossible to concentrate.  You find yourself sitting in a chair with several hours gone by and you don’t have any way of accounting for your time.  Not only did you think nothing, you accomplished nothing.  Keeping on a schedule or to a to-do list in this condition is a monumental chore in itself.  Showing up on time is a crapshoot – you may make it, you may not.

 

At times like this, your personal hygiene suffers, because you don’t have the time or attention to pay toward such endeavors.  You often go without meals and when you do eat it’s either raw or burnt because cooking seems like a long lost art form with all the busyness going on inside.  Even simple house chores become laborious.  You can’t remember a chain of events or the timing of events (did that happen yesterday or the day before?).  You can only manage a maximum of one activity at a time and more often than not, that activity is staring blankly into space.  Multi-tasking is definitely not a possibility during this phase.  Conversation is strictly a responsibility which you find yourself often unable to perform.  When you can manage a chat, you find yourself unable to retain or remember what was said on either side.

 

Still, you continue on with the arduous task of collecting your thoughts into some identifiable shape.  Unfortunately, like the mice, you know they are there – you just don’t know exactly how to get at them.

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Jacks

Very seldom do you see a bi-polar with a simple diagnosis. There always seem to be co-morbid diagnoses and these are a little like playing the game jacks.

 

You get sick, bounce the ball and pick up one jack – bi-polar. Just when you think you’ve got it all under control, you bounce the ball again, with a diagnosis of OCD. Bounce again and you pick up the previous two diagnoses and an anxiety disorder. On and on it goes, each bounce forcing you to pick up more jacks. Eventually, you can’t handle them all and you lose the game by being hospitalized or starting over with a new physician. Then you start over again.

 

It is hard to talk about only one diagnosis when there are so many in your hand. It is sometimes even difficult to separate which symptoms come from which disorder. Sometimes the jacks get jumbled up together and you can’t pull them apart – in other words, you occasionally have instances when you don’t know whether the anxiety is causing you discomfort the bi-polar is the source of trouble – or the PTSD or agoraphobia, etc. etc. What you are cognizant of is the difficulty of functioning throughout your daily life.

 

Through medication and counseling you can decrease the number of jacks you are required to pick up by minimizing symptoms. Anxiety can be calmed with xanax, bi-polar can be moderated with lithium, PTSD can be assisted with hypnotherapy. The idea is to use any resource available to reduce your requirement to one jack at a time (regardless of which one you pick up.) so you can continue to win the rounds with ease.

 

 

The Sun and the Black Hole

Sometimes when you’re bi-polar, you’re like the white hot, shining sun.  You give light and warmth to every planet that graces you with its orbit.  You outshine all around you without comparison and there is never any question that you are the natural leader that the universe should cling to.  The problem is that sometimes you are also the black hole, sucking every bit of energy and productivity from life as everyone around you flees, desperate to evade the vacuum of increasing nothingness.

 

The most frustrating part is that it takes exactly the same amount of effort and expertise to be both of these things.  Everyone wants to shine like the sun, but when you know that it will eventually implode, there’s a lot of pressure in accepting admiration, respect and attention associated with being on top.  You know that it can’t last and you will burn out, leaving all those accolades to fade into stardust and eventually disappear completely.  It is frustrating to put forth all of your effort and talent and still be a negative factor in the universe, knowing that just a short time ago you yielded such exemplary results.

 

In the end being the black hole is so shameful and disgraceful that you carry around an inadequate sense of self to accommodate that time.  It is difficult to accept praise and admiration when you know it is only to be short-lived.  It is impossible to expect yourself to continue at the white hot pace of excellence you get when you’re really “on it”.  It is equally impossible to merely settle somewhere in the middle and become a little planet, happily circling the sun with its daily moderation.  Besides, wouldn’t being a simple planet be boring?

 

Finally, you must find and take the meds that squeeze you into the role of planet, knowing that you have the potential for much more, but accepting the opportunity cost of curbing your abilities.  It is no more simple a task to do this than to alternate between extremes, but it is healthier, so you do it and mourn for the time you were the sun.

My Dog

My prose fails to be poignant at this point.  It is an issue of illness I am afraid.  Whatever the meds don’t mask, the stress distorts, and I find myself in a position where it is impossible to articulately convey myself.  For the purposes of moving on and remaining productive however, I have come up with a simple list in lieu of my regular journal entries/essays this week on a topic I have wanted to write on for a long time.

 

What having a service animal means to me:

 

  1. My depression      will never become deadly again.       Before that happens, the dog will make certain that I call someone      to help fix some food and open the door for a walk.  Depression is a sneaky brute and sometimes      I don’t realize just how far into its clutches I have been drawn until      there is a total breakdown.  In an      ideal world, keeping the dog exercised daily would provide all the      serotonin required for a positive mental outlook, but sometimes, even when      I’m medicated, I continue to function only for the love of my dog, and I      am more likely to seek assistance when the dog’s health is on the line      rather than just my own.
  2. I will never be      alone again.  There will always be a      welcoming hug waiting for me, and an appreciative full-body grin to back      it up.  My dog’s not going to leave      because I get sick, he’s going to adapt to my illness and do his best to      set me straight.  There is stability      in knowing someone will always be on your side, and because I have thumbs,      my dog will be there forever.
  3. I will always      have something or someone to divert myself with when I am panicked or      agitated.  There is a healing      quality to the training of my dog.       We both win…I am calmed, he learns a new trick and we both get to      enjoy the click and treat ritual.  I      have used my dog as an excuse to go out in public when I would not      otherwise do so.  My theory is that      being a Chihuahua,      he needs extra socialization to overcome natural fears.  In reality, we are both overcoming the      tension created by being in an uncomfortable situation.
  4. My grossly      inappropriate behavior will no longer go without address.  My dog doesn’t care about hurting my      feelings, and when I’m rude or wrong, he tells me so without      compunction.  I am more likely to      take advice kindly when it comes from the dog as well.  For whatever reason, even when I cannot      interact successfully with other people, my dog has my ear and I have his.
  5. My life will      never again be without purpose or direction.  I am required to continue our education      constantly.  Being a Chihuahua, my dog      needs to be in training or he will regress into a yappy, snappy,      aggressive, possessive little being.       The only way to a confident toy dog that will pass the Delta exams      is through continuous schooling in some new subject.  When the dog’s a puppy, this is      easy.  As he gets older, it gets      more challenging to find appropriate new pastimes.  This requires discipline, direction,      leadership and effort on my part.       Because of my mental instability, those are some things that I      could not get anywhere else in the world.

I will never again forget to work hard and rest easy.  My dog teaches me how to get up early and use my energy with an intense, positive focus so that I can unwind in tranquility at the end of a glorious day.

Manic Phases

Manic phases are different than depressive ones.  Aside from the obvious mood difference, there is the way that they begin.  Depression kind of sneaks up slowly, from behind, stalking and waiting for the lunge that will bring its kill.  Mania is instantaneous.  All of the sudden, there is a ticker tape from my subconscious, listing all of the things that need to be done NOW!!!  I still can’t concentrate, that’s the same, but now I can’t think because I’m thinking of ten things at once and it’s hard to separate them out into a single strand.

I know that I am agitated, because when things don’t go my way, Trusty Boyfriend/Knight In Shining Armor screams “Oh my God Karen, what next?!”  (This is usually followed by some sort of assuaging behavior providing fulfillment of my needs. – he is trusty you know.)  I usually get angry with people at about this time, and wonder why they are so slow, or in my way, or even there in the first place (How RUDE!)  Hint number one:  Don’t go shopping with me when I’m like this…all those bodies in such a small space, it’s not pretty.

Sleeping now seems more like a chore than a way to relax or rejuvenate.  I will myself to lie still in the dark and quiet, as the ticker tape keeps plugging away in my brain.  I restrain myself from getting up and just taking care of “a few little loose ends” at the end of a 20 hour day.  Torturously, the slow nighttime hours pass until I’m finally freed by the dawn’s light to arise and begin again, all the time telling myself that I am in control and I will not crash.  There isn’t really anything wrong, I’m just feeling better, that’s all.

And it feels good to be feeling better, or so I tell myself.  It is true, I do feel 100% better than I did a few days ago.  A small part of my brain (maybe the amygdale  – it’s VERY small and reptilian in instinct.) whispers: “you are not alright…there will be a down you know.”  Though I choose to ignore it today, I know deep down inside, this is true.  I am not okay – this is a cycle, and I will have to pay dearly in an hour or a year or whenever it ends.  For now, I choose to ride the wave, thanking God only that it’s not a depression this time.

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